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Bus Story: Presentation Judgement

To say she has a “sinister aspect” would be understating the situation. Significantly. Garbed in dark folds of dense grey serge, she moves with sharp, jerky actions, as if she were being startled over and over again. Milky eyes harboring a greenish cast peer out from under a hood, framed by the limpest, darkest black hair there ever was. Piercings, of which there are several, give the impression of metal teeth protruding from her mouth.

She appears to be uninterested in the rest of the riders on the bus. Save one. A small, pink-cheeked cherub of a child sits on the lap of her father across the aisle. The woman stares intently at the child, muttering something unintelligible under her breath. I can see her hands, gloved in black as they are, manipulating what looks like a brass charm bracelet. Suddenly, her rheumy eyes dart up from the child to take in a woman who has just climbed aboard; and she gasps, audibly.

The new arrival is light and calm personified. Her open features, set off by sapphire blue eyes, are framed by auburn hair, swept upward into a stylish crown of braids. Her long coat is pearlescent with silver accents and on her wrists, a series of bracelets that catch the morning sun.

The Woman in Light stands, after boarding, right next to the father and his precious little daughter. I noticed that she, too, can’t take her eyes from the child, and in her pale and manicured hands, she fiddles with something. Like the other, her lips are moving with words we can’t hear.

Suddenly, as the bus reaches a stop and the doors open, the Woman in Light moves with the speed of a striking viper towards the child, reaching out to snatch her from her father’s lap. But her hands are stopped, inches from the child by a barrier; an unseen wall of pure love and protection. As her hands collide with the shield, the Dark Woman grunts slightly with the effort of holding it in place. With a snarl that belies her aspect, the Woman in Light gathers her coat around her and flees the bus, other riders in front of her suddenly shoved aside by invisible hands.

The child’s father, still quite stunned by what just happened in front of him and his child, stammers out a “thank you” in a reverent whisper to the Dark Woman. She smiles and nods in return. At the next stop, she rises and departs the bus, leaving those of us who witnessed her heroic act to remember stories we’ve been told, admonishments about books and covers, and, most significantly, to re-examine our deep seated myth-based biases about women with magic.

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Bus Story: Different Sorts of Burdens

Dropping into a seat, he exhales such that you might think reaching that spot was the culmination of a journey of a thousand days. His rain-soaked ginger hair, the colors of a tropical sunset, hangs over his face, dripping into his lap. More specifically, it drips onto the satchel which sits on his lap. With a flick of his hand, he whisks away the water droplets, panic overtaking his otherwise placid features. He frantically examines the satchel, looking for any evidence that water had reached the contents. Satisfied that it is inviolate, he sits back and sighs. It’s been a year or so since the last catastrophe, but to a Warden of Gremlins, taking one of them out in this weather is always a high risk proposition.

Bus Story: The Parts of a Whole

It starts with a squeak. Just one. And then it repeats. And again. Now there is a click and a humming thrump sound. The woman standing in front of me sighs. The dude with the tortured hair and overly-wrought glasses sniffs loudly. Squeak. Squeak. Click thump. Sigh. Sniff. The sequence continues, with slight shifts in rhythm and tempo. In the background, the humming of the bus engine is akin to the drone of a bagpipe, punctuated by the notes of life as we ride along. Take a moment and listen to the song of the world, gentle reader, and recognize the part you add to the grand symphony. Even during something as mundane as a bus ride.

Writing Practice #4: Growing Grief

For these exercises, I am pulling a random image from the internet and giving myself up to 1 hour to write something. 

She wept at her first sight of it. Tears cascaded down her weathered face, and great wracking sobs shook her entire body. The guide who brought her to the place stood silently to the side, with his eyes cast downward in respect for her grief. He waited, patiently, for the woman’s crying to subside, and, when it had, she looked at him with her questions showing in her gray red-rimmed eyes. 

“Why?!”, she asked after a time. “We made all the right sacrifices and offerings. Why would he do this to us?”

The guide sighed deeply and told her the same as he had to the dozen other widows: “Lord Poseidon saw the beautiful gardens that your people planted on land. And the other gods laughed at him and wagered he would never know what it is to cultivate a garden.”

The guide paused as he saw the realization slowly take over the woman’s face. Her deep grief twisted quickly into a powerful rage as she spoke with a low, measured voice. 

“So he destroyed our ships, one after another, taking the lives of our husbands, sons, and brothers, and all just to make…”, she swallowed hard and continued, “…a garden of anchors.”

She turned to the guide and asked the question that would change her forever.

“Tell me, my guide, how may I summon the Furies? It is time that the gods felt some retribution of their capriciousness.

Writing Practice #3: Curvilinear Thinking

For these exercises, I am pulling a random image from the internet and giving myself up to 1 hour to write something. 

Writing Practice- Day 3 - trees

Memory is what ties our present to our past. Without it, we become adrift in moments, experiencing each transient event as unique and without context. This can be freeing, I would imagine, but also quite terrifying.

When my mother’s memories began fading from her, as if she was unsuccessfully trying to hold a handful of sand, I saw the fear in her eyes as she tried to follow the branches of her thoughts from what she knew to what she tried to remember. And, just like climbing a tree, the gaps between thoughts were sometimes insurmountable. And, when the Parkinson’s and dementia took hold more and more, there would be times when she would be out on a limb, so to speak, without any connection to memory, and there would be a moment of joy at being just completely present in that exact moment. But it would be short-lived, as some part of her still knew there were supposed to be memories, and the fear would return.

Tennessee Williams wrote: “Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”

In a “mindfulness” practice, the goal is to focus on the present, and pay attention to just this moment. Zen Buddhist teachings, and, I am sure, others, have similar tenets of practice to help focus attention to where it will do the most good for us.

Are humans the only sentient beings on this planet who understand the concept of memory, and, if so, are we the only ones who derive both solace and pain from having this capacity? I don’t believe so. I think animals, mountains, and, most definitely, trees have memories. And, what’s more, I think they all have the ability to experience time in a circular, or spherical, manner. What I think humans have cornered the market on is the experience of time as purely linear; flowing in a single direction from the past to the present, and into the future. Perhaps someday, we will learn otherwise, and, my hope is that we will lose our fear of forgetting, along with our constant drive to live in the future, while we miss the present.